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:- Dowry system.
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History. Wad the dowry is? Introduction to dowry. Ancient marriage rites in the vedic period. List of amending acts. Penalty for demanding dowry. Reasons for dowry increase. Dowry prohibition. The way forward. Skit Conclusion
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In India dowry (known as Daheji in Hindhi) is the payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to bridegroom's family along with the bride. Generally they include cash, jewellery electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils and other household items that help the newly-wed set up her home. In India the dowry system has been putting great financial burden on the daughters family. It has been one of the reasons for families and women in India resorting to sex selection favoring to have a son. This has distorted the sex ratio of the India (933 females per thousand males )and have given rise to female foeticide. The payment of a dowry has been prohibited under The 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act in Indian civil law and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498a of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Dowry originated in the upper caste families as an insurance to the bride to take care of herself and her children during crisis. The rich and rajas (kings) used to gift land as dowry. Mumbai was presented as part of the dowry when Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal was married to King Charles II in 1661. The dowry has been considered as 'Stridhan' where 'stri' means women and 'dhan' means 'wealth'.
What the dowry is?
Dowry (dahej) is one of the most ancient practices of India. Punishment Dowry system is as old as man is. The dowry system is a social evil. It is prevalent in all parts of India and almost in all the countries of the world. In India many of the traditional customs have been given up, but the custom of dowry has It is the cash, precious jewellery and other important thing given to the daughter in her marriage. This evil is found in almost every community . Now dowry is demanded by the groom‟s parents and marriage takes place only if a certain amount of dowry is paid by the bride‟s parents. Today dowry is given as compensation to the groom‟s India is suffering from many social evils and superstitions. Dowry System is one of them. Parents ask for the amount they have spent in educating and upbringing their son. It is also considered a status symbol, especially in the high class, and generally the items of dowry are flaunted and hyped by both parties. Many young women commit suicide because of this system. Their parents can not collect the required fund. To fulfill the demands of the girl‟s in laws they borrow money or even sometimes they put their property on mortgage. It has become truly difficult to find the suitable match for the girl without giving the demanded dowry. Nowadays, marriage has become a kind of business and misuse of girls parents. The parents those boys are highly educated and getting handsome package demand enormous dowry for marriage of their son. The demand of dowry is according to the qualification of the boy. Even today when there are broad minded people still the system of dowry has not being abolished. Marriages are longer the combination of hearts; it is just the kind of business transaction. Even the rich parents of the boy do no feel shame in begging dowry. The system of dowry in India is a very serious matter and a black spot on the Indian society. Except India the dowry system is not found in any other country. From this it could be easily observed that the women are not treated equally and fairly as men. After marriage also they are treated badly and harassed by her in laws for dowry. And still there is no end of it. Dowry system is against the law of equality between man and woman. Today dowry is considered as the crime, both giving and taking. Thousands of cases has being observed every year but only few of them put to court for not only
continued, but flourished over the years. Even in the old age the dowry system was in vogue and dowry was used as means for striking a good match. In due course dowry became an integral part of the marriage institution and is generally accepted By the socity as necessary evil. custom of dowry has become widespread. Even before the marriage, the amount to be given as dowry is discussed and settled with the change of time. The contents of dowry have undergone a great change. The boy‟s parents openly demand money and other items which include car, scooter, fridge, colourT.V. etc. The rate of dowry changes according to the qualification of the boy. There are “rates” fixed for I.A.S.,I.P.S., P.C.S., I.E.S. officers and qualified engineers and doctors. In fact, a regular marriage cannot be held and a marriage without dowry is almost unthinkable.
Why this social evil prevail in India?
There are several reasons for the prevalence of the dowry system, but the main one is that it is a necessary precondition for marriage. “No dowry, no marriage,” is a widespread fear.. The price tag for the groom is now bigger and bolder. Families arrange most marriages, and a man who does not marry for love learns he can marry for possessions. For this man, and his family, a woman becomes the ticket to shortcut riches through the system of dowry. There are a number of things people desire to have in their own houses but cannot afford; they use the opportunity of a son‟s marriage to get them. The girl‟s parents do not protest against thIs, as they regard it as a stepping-stone towards higher social status and better matches for the remaining children. Now the guy who is to be married is sold in the market. It seems that the people put their bets on the guys and who will bet more cam marry their daughter to him.
Introduction to Dowry
The basic definition of dowry have remained unclear. As discussed by Menski (1998), there are definitely several concepts of dowry which interlink with each other. Some writers have defined dowry as wealth given to a daughter at her marriage for contributing to the practical life of the newly married couple. They are transfers given from parents to the daughter to take with her into marriage. Technically, the property belongs to the wife and ought to stay within her control, though the husband usually has rights of management. Corresponding to the spirit of the dowry institution, dowry given to a wife ought to form part of the conjugal estate, to be enjoyed by husband and wife and to be transmitted in time to their children (Tambiah, 1973). Another definition to dowry is the property a woman brings to the marriage partnership. In this meaning, dowry can be the dowry a bride receives from her parents, property she previously inherited and brings to the marriage, or property she owns as a widow and brings when she remarries (Nazzari, 1991; Birge, 2002). Dowry has also been referred to as a gift or transfer by a bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. Dowry as bequest have given way to groomprice, a direct transfer to the groom, in numerious historical instances (Anderson, 2007). This form of transfer has been termed by M. N. Srinivas, leading Indian Sociologist, as "new dowry" (Menski, 1998) and Anderson (2003) as "real dowry payments". Studies have shown that the crux of the dowry problem appears to lie with this particular concept of dowry (Menski, 1998; Dalmia and Lawrence, 2005, etc.).
Ancient Marriage Rites In The Vedic Period
The ancient marriage rites in the Vedic period are associated with Kanyadan. It is laid down in Dharamshastara that the meritorious act of Kanyadan is not complete till the bridegroom was given a dakshina. So when a bride is given over to the bridegroom, he has to be given something in cash or kind which constitute varadakshina. Thus Kanyadan became associated with varadakshina i.e. the cash or gifts in kind by the parents or guardian of the bride to the bridegroom. The varadakshina was offered out of affection and did not constitute any kind of compulsion or consideration for the marriage. It was a voluntary practice without any coercive overtones. In the course of time, the voluntary element in dowry has disappeared and the coercive element has crept in. it has taken deep roots not only in the marriage ceremony but also post-marital relationship. What was originally intended to be a taken dakshina for the bridegroom has now gone out of proportions and has assumed the nomenclature 'dowry'.
The social reformers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have striven hard for the abolition of various social evils including the evil of dowry system. Long before India gained independence, then the provincial Government of Sind passed an enactment known as "Sind Deti Leti Act, 1939" with a view to deal effectively with the evils of dowry system but the enactment had neither any impact nor could create the desired effect. During the last few decades the evils of dowry system has taken an acute form in almost all parts of the country and in almost all the sections of society. In a bid to eradicate this evil from the society, the State Governments of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh enacted "The Bihar Dowry Restraint Act, 1950" and "The Andhra Pradesh Dowry Prohibition Act, 1958" for the respective States, but both these enactments failed to achieve the objectives for which they were enacted.
Causes for the System of Dowry in India
The factors and forces responsible for the practice of dowry in India are: early marriages for girls, limited field of marriage, hypergamy, patriarchy, importance of education a false sense of prestige, materialistic attitude and economic prosperity.
Consequences of the of Dowry System
The consequences or demerits of dowry system include: female infanticide, late marriages for some girls, unsuitable matches for girls, lowering of women's status, breakdown of marriage, unhappy married life, tension between two families, increase in immorality, increase in mental diseases, suicide and impoverishment of middle class families by paying heavy dowries and a large number of dowry deaths.
List Of Amending Acts
1. The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1984. 2. The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986. (1) This Act may be called the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. (2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. (3) It shall come into force on such date 1as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint. 1. Came into force on 1-7-1961 vide S.O. 1410, dated 20-6-1961. In this Act, "dowry" means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly. (a) By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or (b) By the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person,at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include] dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.
(i) The word „dowry‟ should be any property or valuable given or agreed to be given in connection with the marriage. The customary payments in connection with birth of child or other ceremonies are not involved within ambit of dowry; Satbir Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 2001 SC 2828. (ii) “Dowry” in the sense of the expression contemplated by Dowry Prohibition Act is a demand for property of valuable security having an inextricable nexus with the marriage, i.e., it is a consideration from the side of the bride‟s parents or relatives to the groom or his parents and/or guardian for the agreement to wed the bride-to-be. But where the demand for property or valuable security has no connection with the consideration for
the marriage, it will not amount to a demand for dowry; Arjun Dhondiba Kamble v. State of Maharashtra, 1995 AIHC 273. (iii) Any property given by parents of the bride need not be in consideration of the marriage, it can even be in connection with the marriage and would constitute dowry; Rajeev v. Ram Kishan Jaiswal, 1994 Cri LJ NOC 255 (All). (iv) The definition of dowry is wide enough to include all sorts of properties, valuable securities, etc., given or agreed to be given directly or indirectly; Vemuri Venkateswara Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1992 Cri LJ 563 AP HC. (v) There had been no agreement between either parties to give any property or valuable security to the other party at or before or after the marriage. The demand of T.V., refrigerator, gas connection, cash of Rs. 50,000 and 15 tolas of gold are not demand of dowry but demand of valuable security in view of section 2; Shankar Prasad Shaw v. State, I (1992) DMC 30 Cal. (vi) While dowry signifies presents given in connection with marriage to the bridal couple as well as others, Stridhan is confined to property given to or meant for the bride; Hakam Singh v. State of Punjab, (1990) 1 DMC 343. (vii) Dowry, means, any property given or agreed to be given by the parents of a party to the marriage at the time of the marriage or before marriage or at any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage. So, where the husband had demanded a sum of Rs. 50,000 some days after the marriage from his father-in-law and on not being given became angry, tortured the wife and threatened to go for another marriage, it was held that the amount was being demanded in connection with the marriage and it was a demand for dowry though it was demanded after the marriage; Y.K. Bansal v. Anju, All LJ 914. (viii) The furnishing of a list of ornaments and other household articles such as refrigerator, furniture, electrical appliances, etc., at the time of the settlement of the marriage amounts to demand of dowry within the meaning of section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961; Madhu Sudan Malhotra v. K.C. Bhandari, 1988 BLJR 360 (SC). (ix) A sum of money paid by a Mohemmadan in connection with his daughter‟s marriage to prospective bridegroom for the purchase of a piece of land in the joint name of his daughter and would-be son-in-law is not „dowry‟ within the meaning of the Act; Kunju Moideen v. Syed Mohamed, AIR 1986 Ker 48. (x) Where the demand was made after the marriage for the purchase of a car, it was held that it did not fall within the definition; Nirdosh Kumar v. Padma Rani, 1984 (2) Rec Cr R 239.
(xii) Definition of ‟dowry‟ is not restricted to agreement or demand for payment of dowry before and at the marriage but also includes demands made subsequent to marriage; State of Andhra Pradesh v. Raj Gopal Asawa, AIR 2004 SCW 1566. (xiii) Demand of dowry in respect of invalid marriage would not be legally recognisable; Reena Aggarwal v. Anupam, AIR 2004 SC 1418. 1. Subs. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 2, for “or after the marriage” (w.e.f. 19-111986). 2. Subs. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 2, for certain words (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 3. Explanation I omitted by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 2 (w.e.f. 2-10-1985) If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, and with fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more Provided that the Court may, for a adequate and special reasons to be recorded in he judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment of a term of less than five years. shall apply to, or in relation to:(a) Presents which are given at the time of a marriage to the bride (without any demand having been made in that behalf). (b) Presents which are given at the time of a marriage to the bridegroom (without any demand having been made in that behalf). Provided that such presents are entered in a list maintained in accordance with the rules made under this Act. Provided further that where such presents are made by or on behalf of the bride or any person related to the bride, such presents are of a customary nature and the value thereof is not excessive having regard to the financial status of the person by whom, or on whose behalf, such presents are given .
(i) Section 3 does not contravene articles 14, 19, 21 and 22 of the Constitution and therefore this section is not ultra vires of the said articles; Indrawati v. Union of India, I (1991) DMC 117 (All). (ii) The offence is founded in the relationship of the property demanded as abettor with the nature of demand. It should not bear a mere connection with marriage; Madan Lal v. Amar Nath, (1984) 2 Rec Cr. 581. (iii) Abetment is a preparatory act and connotes active complicity on the part of the abettor at a point of time prior to the actual commission of the offence; Muthummal v.Maruthal, 1981 Cr. LJ 833 (Mad). 1. Section 3 re-numbered as sub-section (1) thereof by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 3 (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 2. Subs. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 3, for certain words (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 3. Subs. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 3, for certain words (w.e.f. 19-11-1986). 4. Subs. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 3, for “six months” (w.e.f. 19-11-1986). 5. Ins. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 3 (w.e.f. 2-10-1985).
Penalty For Demanding Dowry
Penalty for demanding dowry.- If any person demands, directly or indirectly, from the parents or other relatives or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees. Provided that the Court may, for a adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months.
The mere demand of dowry before marriage is an offence; The offence of demanding dowry stood committed even before the marriage was performed and also when the demand was repeated again and again after the performance of marriage in respect of the same items of dowry;
The deceased had before being set on fire by her in-laws written a letter to her father that she was being ill-treated, harassed and threatened of dire consequences for non-satisfaction of demand of dowry. Thereby proving that an offence of demanding dowry under section 4 had been committed; There had been no agreement between either parties to the marriage nor their relations to give any property or valuable security to the other party at or before or after the marriage. Held that the demand of TV, refrigerator, gas connection, cash of Rs. 50,000 and 15 tolas of gold will not amount to demand of dowry but demand of valuable security and the said offence does not attract section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act;
Furnishing of a list of ornaments and other household articles at the time of settlement of marriage amounts to demand of dowry and accused are liable to be convicted under section 4.
(vi) Section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act is not ultra vires nor does it contravene articles 14, 19, 21, 22 of the Constitution;. Union of India, 1 (1991) DMC 117 All. 1. Subs. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 4, for section 4 (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). Ban on advertisement .- If any person (a) Offers through any advertisement in any newspaper, periodical, journal or through any other media, any share in his property or of any money or both as a share in any business or other interest as consideration fore the marriage of his son or daughter or any other relatives. (b) Prints or published or circulates any advertisement referred to in clause (a), he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to five years, or with fine which may extend to fifteen thousand rupees. Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months. 1. Ins. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 4 (w.e.f. 19-11-1986).
Agreement for giving or taking dowry to be void :Any agreement for the giving or taking of dowry shall be void.
Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife or her heirs:(1) Where any dowry is received by any person other than the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person shall transfer it to the woman-
(a) If the dowry was received before marriage, within three months after the date of marriage; or (b) If the dowry was received at the time of or after the marriage, within three months after the date of its receipt; or (c) If the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, within three months after she has attained the age of eighteen years,and pending such transfer, shall hold it in trust for the benefit of the woman. (2) If any person fails to transfer any property as required by sub-section (1) within the time limit specified therefor, or as required by sub-section (3), he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to two years or with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees, but which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both. (3) Where the woman entitled to any property under sub-section (1) dies before receiving it, the heirs of the woman shall be entitled to claim it from the person holding it for the time being: Provided that where such woman dies within seven years of her marriage, otherwise than due to natural causes, such property shall,— (a) If she has no children, be transferred to her parents; or (b) If she has children, be transferred to such children and pending such transfer, be held in trust for such children. (4) Where a person convicted under sub-section (2) for failure to transfer any property as required by sub-section (1) or sub-section (3)has not, before his conviction under that sub-section, transferred such property to the woman entitled thereto or, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children the Court shall, in addition to awarding punishment under that sub-section, direct, by order in writing, that such person shall transfer the property to such woman or, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children within such period as may be specified in the order, and if such person fails to comply with the direction within the period so specified, an amount equal to the value of the property may be recovered from him as if it were a fine imposed by such Court and paid to such woman or, as the case may be ,her heirs, parents or children.
Nothing contained in this section shall affect the provisions of section 3 or section 4 1. Subs. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 5, for “one year” (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 2. Subs. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 5, for sub-section (2) (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 3.Ins. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 5 (w.e.f. 19-11-1986). 4. Subs. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 5, for certain words (w.e.f. 19-11-1986). 5. Ins. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 5 (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 6. Subs. by Act 63 of 1986, sec. 5, for “her heirs” (w.e.f. 19-11-1986).
Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife or her heirs :(1) Where any dowry is received by any person other than the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person shall transfer it to the woman(a) If the dowry was received before marriage, within 1[three months] after the date of marriage; or (b) If the dowry was received at the time of or after the marriage, within1[three months] after the date of its receipt; or (c) If the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, within 1[three months] after she has attained the age of eighteen years,and pending such transfer, shall hold it in trust for the benefit of the woman. (2) If any person fails to transfer any property as required by sub-section (1) within the time limit specified therefor, 3[or as required by sub-section (3),he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to two years or with finewhich shall not be less than five thousand rupees, but which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both. (3) Where the woman entitled to any property under sub-section (1) dies before receiving it, the heirs of the woman shall be entitled to claim it from the person holding it for the time being:
Provided that where such woman dies within seven years of her marriage, otherwise than due to natural causes, such property shall,— (a) If she has no children, be transferred to her parents; or (b) If she has children, be transferred to such children and pending such transfer, be held in trust for such children.] (3A) Where a person convicted under sub-section (2) for failure to transfer any property as required by sub-section (1) or sub-section (3) has not, before his conviction under that sub-section, transferred such property to the woman entitled thereto or, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children] the Court shall, in addition to awarding punishment under that sub-section, direct, by order in writing, that such person shall transfer the property to such woman or, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children within such period as may be specified in the order, and if such person fails to comply with the direction within the period so specified, an amount equal to the value of the property may be recovered from him as if it were a fine imposed by such Court and paid to such woman or, as the case may be,her heirs, parents or children. 1. Subs. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 5, for “one year” (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 2. Subs. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 5, for sub-section (2) (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 3.Ins. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 5 (w.e.f. 19-11-1986). 4. Subs. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 5, for certain words (w.e.f. 19-11-1986). 5. Ins. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 5 (w.e.f. 2-10-1985). 6. Subs. by Act 63 of 1986, sec. 5, for “her heirs” (w.e.f. 19-11-1986).
Reasons for Dowry Increase
Those who make a case for a stringent anti-dowry law on the ground that dowry amounts are rising exponentially forget that among many families in the dowry practicing groups, standards of living have also risen dramatically. Up to my grandmother's time, dowry consisted of clothes for the bride, gold or silver jewelry, several sets of bedding, cows, buffaloes and bedsteads, cots or peedhas and perhaps a wooden closet. Some communities also gifted a portion of land - a tradition still common in regions like Andhra. By the time of my mother's wedding, sofa sets and dressing tables had become mandatory and dinner sets and tea sets were included along with kitchen utensils. Watches, wall clocks and radio sets also became common because by then all these items had become customary parts of middle class life. Today, refrigerators, air conditioners, automobiles and a whole range of gadgetry are an integral part of upper class and upper middle class dowries because these families use many of these conveniences in their daily lives. However, there is no escaping the fact that ugly tussles are becoming commonplace over dowry payments. An important reason for growing cash demands and expensive gifts for the groom's family is that parents see this as their main, if not the only chance, to be compensated for the big bonanza they are offering the bride in the form of an earning son. They feel they should be recompensed for their investment in his education and upbringing since after marriage his wife may influence him not to support his own parents. As long as joint families were the norm and most parents could count on their sons to support them in old age and treat their income as belonging to a common pool, dowry demands were not as much of an issue. However, with increasing breakdown of joint families and reluctance of many women to stay with in-laws, the insecurity of parents in many families takes the form of trying to extract what they can from the bride's family at the time of their son's marriage.
The rapid upward mobility made possible due to opening of new opportunities for urban educated middle and upper class men, whose earning potential has increased exponentially, has meant that such grooms are avidly sought after. For most women upward mobility comes through the man they marry rather than their own employment. Most families try getting higher status grooms in the belief that their daughters will find it easier to adjust in such families than if they were to marry below their status, apart from the benefits accruing in the long run to the girl's family by forging an alliance with a well-connected kinship network; the demand for such upwardly mobile men is far in excess of supply. An important reason for the increase in domestic conflicts, rising dowry demands and the transformation of dowry fromstridhan to groom price is that our legal enactments, administrative interventions and state policies are forcing the nuclearisation of families without due attention to the fact that the only or main old age security for the vast majority of people in India are their children, especially their sons. Parents invest all they can in their son's education and career building in the hope and expectation that sons will get jobs or other forms of earning opportunities bringing about upward mobility for the whole family. Sons are expected to contribute to the education and marriage costs of younger siblings as well as take care of parents in their old age. In societies where there is near total absence of any other form of social or old age security, this is an understandable expectation. However, too many parents find this expectation belied after their sons get married, especially if their sons take up well paying jobs or succeed in an independent enterprise separate from the joint family economy. Not just in metropolitan cities, but even in small towns and villages of India, young wives are increasingly prone to insist on moving away from the joint family and set up their own independent establishment, even when the in-laws are not abusive. A man continuing to financially support his parents or younger siblings even after nuclearization of the family often finds stiff resistance from his wife. Many even
stop doing so. Sometimes parents themselves withdraw from receiving such support in order to avoid friction in the marital life of their sons. Without doubt, in some cases daughters-in-law willingly endorse their husbands' efforts to support their natal families. But the over all trend is more in the direction of moving away from taking responsibility for the in-laws.
Insecurity of Groom's Family
In recent years I have heard any number of parents tell me that marriage no more means 'kanya daan' (gift of a daughter) but 'putr samarpan' (handing over of son to the daughterin- law). They say that they have to be prepared for the eventuality that even occasional visits to the son's house may be resented and blocked by his wife, if she succeeds in winning him over to her side. That is why one finds many parents try to marry off their daughters before they arrange their sons' marriages because of the fear that they may not be allowed to contribute to the expenses after their sons get married. This is also the reason why dowry is increasingly taking the form of 'groom price', with parents expecting that a certain sum of money will be given to them almost as 'recompense' for their handing over the income and assets of their son to the woman who becomes his wife. This increasing insecurity and uncertainty is at the heart of family tussles between the bride, her natal family and her-in-laws. While some gracefully resign themselves to this fate and even encourage sons to set up a separate house after marriage, many fight a grim battle to keep their sons under their influence, which often means using even vicious methods to prevent the couple from enjoying a close conjugal relationship. The young bride has a formidable weapon in her armory - her youth and sex. The old parents exploit the emotional appeal of blood bonds. This bond is easier to sever where the parents are dependent on the sons for old age support. The few families who are very wealthy may succeed in using their property as a glue to keep their married sons close to them. This anxiety and uncertainty about their fate vis-a-vis their sons is in large part responsible for strengthening the culture of 'dowry demands'. The fierce battles between daughters-in-law and parents-in-law are also largely due to the fact that women in most communities are conditioned to believe that their rights lie in their husbands' families. Therefore, they feel extremely insecure and resentful about the claims of other members of their husbands' families. Part of the solution to this dilemma, therefore, lies in giving women inalienable rights in their parental property so that they enter their marital homes with a sense of self
confidence in the knowledge that they don't have to keep the marriage going 'at all costs' and don't have to carve out a niche for themselves by curbing the rights of their in-laws.
In response to the criticism of the dowry system the Indian government acted in 1961 by legislating the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961. The Dowry Prohibition Act outlawed the practice of the dowry system; however, it is realized in India that the practice still exists. Today, many dowries are accepted directly but more commonly through indirect means. The law can also be circumvented as gifts given without precondition are still considered legal. The Dowry Prohibition Act does not outline punishments for participating in the dowry system; these punishments include imprisonment or a fine. The fine usually is 5000Rs and the term of imprisonment will not exceed six months. The Dowry Prohibition Act also prompted more awareness of the potential harm to women. In the past instances had been known where the bride had been burnt to death when an insufficient dowry was presented so that the groom could remarry. In light of these situations the government now investigates the death of recent brides particularly if the death is believed to be a suicide. There is no charge or penalty for filing a false case of dowry death. The charge of dowry death can be considered within seven years of the suspected death and the charge is prompted through evidence of suspected mistreatment prior to the death. The charge of dowry death carries a sentence ranging from seven years of imprisonment up to life .
The Way Forward
The present day dowry system in India symbolizes the disinheritance of women and the desperation of parents to push their daughters out of their homes after marrying them off, no matter how this affects their well-being. Failure to do so is considered a severe stigma on the family's izzat (reputation). Since the woman is being sent as a disinherited dependent, the receiving family has to be compensated. Once women become equal inheritors, parents will not have to depend only on sons and daughters-in-law for old age security because daughters too will be empowered to take care of their parents. This will make families less male-centric and therefore, less prone to violent tussles. We need to combat the culture of disinheritance if we wish to effectively combat the growing hold of dowry culture. For this the following steps are likely to work better than anti-dowry laws:
Encourage parents through widespread, high profile campaigns, to gift mainly income-generating forms of property to their daughters (land, house or business shares) depending on the economic status of the family. Encourage those parents who can afford it to ensure that their daughter has a house, room or even a jhuggi in her own name so that she is never rendered homeless, can never be 'thrown out of the house'. Amend the Hindu Succession Act to give coparcenary rights to daughters at par with sons as the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamilnadu have already done. Amend the Hindu Succession Act to make it illegal to routinely disinherit daughters through their wills unless they can provide strong extenuating circumstances for doing so.
This story is about a rural family. There lived a small family of Meera in a village named Ramwadi. Meera belonged to a poor family and stayed with her single widow mother and her small brother (chotu). Meera was a responsible and an innocent girl. One fine evening Meera‟s mother got a call from her Uncle. He said he has got a very nice proposal for Meera from Mumbai. Meera‟s mother was very happy and told everything about the proposal to Meera. Meera was also very happy and went to meet her childhood friend Tara to share the good news about the proposal. Tara was also excited. Next evening Raj‟s family came from Mumbai to see Meera. Tara was also present that evening. Meera‟s mother introduced her daughter to Raj‟s family and after introduction Meera went in and Tara was present with her mother. Raj liked Meera and was ready to marry her but Raj‟s parents demanded for Rs.50,000 and a car. As they were very poor Meera‟s mother requested them to accept her daughter without any dowry, but Raj‟s mother sticked to her words. As all this incident took place in front of Tara, she immediately went and told Meera about the demand from Raj‟s family. Meera as well as Tara was against Dowry. After the departure of Raj‟s family Meera and Tara both decided to make Meera‟s mother understand that Dowry is illegal and its better to ignore such kind of proposals in the starting itself. They both did made her mother understand that Dowry is illegal. Because of Meera‟s initiative at a proper time her life as well as her family‟s life was saved.
Scene-2 is a story about an Urban family staying in Mumbai. There was a girl named Komal with a good family background and was doing her BEd final year. Her father was an industrialist. Komal was an intelligent and well-mannered girl. Komal had an elder brother. One day Komal went to her father and told abou her results that she passed with good percentage and on the other side her father was also very happy for her and gave her another good news of marriage proposal for her. Komal always obeyed and respected her father a lot. She had put two conditions that she would do job after her marriage and no Dowry would be given. Her father agreed to both conditions. On the other side Pravin whose proposal had come for Komal was ready to marry because he wanted to have Dowry from girl‟s family and set up his business. Pravin‟s mother was also involved with it. Next day Pravin‟s family went to see Komal , both families liked each other and everything was going good. Then Komals father cleared both the conditions of her daughter and Pravin‟s mother agreed to it. To this Pravin was shocked as he wanted Dowry. Pravin‟s mother planned to assault Komal after marriage for Dowry. Komal and Pravin soon got married and on the same night Pravin assaulted her saying that he married her just for Dowry. Pravin‟s mother and Pravin assaulted, abused and harassed Komal for Dowry. Soon after some months Komal went into depression and started taking pills under the supervision of the Doctor. Komal did tell her brother about the harassment but told him not to tell about it to her father. After some days Komal‟s brother had gone to her sisters place for Rakhi and looking at the situation he told his father everything. Komal‟s father forced her to come back but she did not listen and continued to suffer the torture.
After some days she hanged herself to death. Police did investigation and found that Komal‟s in-laws abused her for D
The dowry system is a multi-faceted issue that is neither straightforward nor constant. Definitions apart, there are many variations to the practice of dowry payments - the size, form and function of payments. It is context and time specific; dowry can be a security blanket for married women by giving them a fund of their own, but it has also been used to indicate the low status for women by reinforcing patriarchal cultures and leaving women vulnerable to violence. It had been demonstrated that dowry-paying socieites tend to have more complex societal structures, substantial socioeconomic differentiation and class stratification, and monogamous, virilocal, patrilineal and endogamous marriage practices. These societies also typically feature low female contribution to agriculture, and high levels of dependence of women and children on husband's economic support. In contrast to Brazil and China, as well as most other dowry-oriented societies in which payments have declined with modernization, dowries are still widely popular in South Asia. Moreover, dowry has been labelled and criticized as a "problem" as it serves to empower men and disempower women in relative to one another.
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